There are many establishments you can go to on Oahu and be welcomed with true Aloha. Unfortunately, Sweet Home Waimanalo is where Aloha goes to die. The staff was decent; however, the owner is someone you do not want to deal with at all during your visit there. She is unfriendly and rude. If you’re looking to enjoy your meal go somewhere else but if you must eat there, don’t go anywhere near the white food truck where she is. The truck is parked to the right of the brick and mortar building that used to be a gas station.
At the bottom of this review, you will read Yelp quotes from other customers that have had the same experience while eating at Sweet Home Waimanalo so you’ll know I’m not the only one who had this type of experience there. You really have to read these comments and reviews to believe them. I’m not kidding. I thought my personal experience was bad eating there. Just wait until you read some of the experiences from other previous patrons, many of them saying they will never come back just like I will never be back.
I first heard of this place through Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives on the Food Network so I wanted to give it a try. I must have driven by this place a hundred times and didn’t even know it was there. The signage for this place is very poor. The only place where I saw the name of this establishment was on the little white food truck where the size of the letters was as small as the numbers you’d see on residential mailboxes. No one could possibly see that this is Sweet Home Waimanalo when you’re driving by at 30 miles an hour. Perhaps, in the end, this is a good thing.
Now, to their food. I always remain objective when reviewing an establishment, regardless of the attitude of the owner. Even though the owner ruined the overall experience, I did enjoy most of what I ordered. However, I didn’t care much at all for the beef brisket (if it really can be called that). Anyone who has ever had a great brisket before will know just by looking at the photo that this is not a brisket that will taste good.
The signature dish from Sweet Home Wiamanalo is the Tofu Black Bean Burger. It comes with local baby romaine lettuce, roma tomato and red onion with a roasted pepper vegan aioli. You cannot get this dish anywhere else on the island. It costs $10, which on this island is a little high, but this is not just a beef patty we are talking about either. It is quite a unique burger and it did taste very good.
I also ordered their combo plate which costs $15.25 for two mains and three sides. My mains were the Waimanalo Herb-Citrus Chicken and Beef Brisket. Their other two mains were the pulled BBQ pork and the Kalua Pork. The locally grown Okinawan sweet potato with mango chutney automatically comes with this combo plate so you get to choose two more sides. I chose the bok choy slaw and the locally grown corn on the cob.
The chicken was quite good. It was fully cooked, tender and juicy. However, the beef brisket was one of the worst I have ever had. It was tough, chewy, fatty and not very flavorful. You can tell by the color, it just doesn’t look right. I am not sure how they prepared the brisket but this main needs to be scrapped from the menu or completely redeveloped from the ground up. Unfortunately, the Okinawan sweet potato missed the mark for my taste. The bok choy slaw was average. The corn on the cob was the best of the sides I tried that day.
Finally we come to the Tropical Treasure Smoothie. This was probably one of the better smoothies I have had on the island. It consists of pitaya, strawberry, blueberry, banana and apple juice. It was a very unique taste. All the ingredients went well together and it was very good.
Overall, the food had its ups and downs. However, the attitude of the owner was enough to make me never support their business again or recommend this place to anyone I know. If I am going to spend my money or encourage anyone to spend their money at a place, I want it to be a place that has at least some Aloha.
Normally, this would be where I’d mention the hours of operation and include links to the businesses’ website and Yelp page, but not this time. Out of 80+ places I have visited and reviewed on the island of Oahu, this is the only place I’ll blur out the image of the building and not link to their Yelp page or website. I will never do anything to promote anyone who doesn’t appreciate their customers and treats them so rudely. Instead, I will put links and a map to Ono Steaks and Shrimp Shack which is just down the street from Sweet Home Waimanalo where they know how to treat a customer and appreciates your business. Their food is also quite good and have very positive reviews on yelp.
I have only eaten at Ono Steaks and Shrimp Shack a couple of times but I have not been disappointed with what I’ve ordered so far and appreciate their friendly customer service. So if you are in the area, give them a shot instead of someone that treats you like you are a burden, when you are supporting their business.
In the interest of full disclosure, I have no connection or personally know anyone who works at or owns Ono Steaks and Shrimp Shack. I paid for my food there just like I paid for my food when I visited Sweet Home Waimanalo. People like to say around here, “Support local businesses”, but I like to say, “support local businesses that provide good service”.
When I got home after trying the food and meeting the owner from Sweet Home Wiamanalo, I went on Yelp to see what some of the other reviews had to say about their experiences and clearly I was not alone. Here are some quotes from other reviewers on Yelp that completely backed up my own personal experience while eating at Sweet Home Wiamanalo:
“The last two visits have been nothing but disappointing. The first of the two instances began with our order of 5 entrees. Two of them we asked to add grilled fish to the salad. We phoned in the order and had confirmation of the correct order before hanging up the phone. After paying for the order and walking out the door, we noticed the added fish was missing. We went back to the pick up window only to be met by the owner who said “what is it now?” Not the best way to greet a customer. We explained our situation and she looked at our receipt. She said in a very rude tone, ” you didn’t pay for it so that’s why it’s not on there.” We indicated that it was repeated back in our order, so whoever rang it up must have missed it. Despite the error not being ours, we paid for the fish anyhow.”
“The second instance involved a pick up order in which they forgot two salads completely. We didn’t realize it until we got home, 40 minutes away. We called immediately and were told we would receive a refund the next time we stopped in. We just had to bring our receipt. So, we showed up a week later and again was spoken to in a very rude manner by the owner that there was no message left regarding our situation. She also indicated it was our job to check our order. Not sure what kind of business she is running where the customer has to verify their orders before leaving. Again she was very rude indicating she would do it this one time, but never again.”
“Overall the food has declined over the last two years and the service is absolutely horrendous. Clearly they have no competition in that area and DDD has put them on the map. Business must be that good that you can treat your patrons like crap. After being a huge fan of his place and having nothing but two back to back instances with the owner, I won’t be returning. The owner and the staff do not give any gratitude for your business or have any remorse when they make a mistake. I’m all about supporting local business with quality food, but not when you are treated so poorly.”
“If you advertise that you close at 7 but always stop taking orders at 6:30, why don’t you change your store hours? We always come here for the Acai bowl. This evening I arrived at 6:20. There were 4 other customers in front of me. As the 2nd customer began his order, someone on a speaker phone abruptly barked “that’s the last order” to the girl behind the counter taking the order. The girl replied, “we have 3 more people in line, but I closed the door.” The person on the phone made some type of negative comment about having to take more orders and it was only 6:30! The customers in front of me looked at each other as if to say WTH because we could all hear her! There were 2 girls behind the counter. One of the girls made/mixed the drinks. She never said a word to the customers, no eye contact and didn’t even mutter a thank you. Here’s a tip to the owner, teach your employees to acknowledge the customers, give eye contact, smile, say thank you for waiting, thank you for coming or just plain thank you! It’s called Customer Service 101. As one of the last customers picked up his food from the truck(this is the guy who heard the voice on the speaker phone saying she didn’t want to take anymore orders) I overheard HIM apologizing to the woman behind the counter for making her work late!! It wasn’t 7pm yet. Customers should not feel like they are an interruption to your business, customers are the reason you have a business.”
“I like the set up of this place, clean & simple but one thing that made me not enjoy my food is the bad service!!
The young lady that took my order was nice enough to tell us their popular items in the menu but this other girl who made my PITAYA bowl had a bad attitude. It was my first time so I wanted to try something new but when I found out I order a smoothie instead of the PITAYA I humbly asked if they can make the one i like. The cashier was ok but the other girl was throwing a fit like she didn’t want to be there. I even apologize to her but she gave me a cold shoulder…what the B****! if I wasn’t hungry I would’ve just walk away.”
” I will support local farmers & local organic stores but I will definitely never come back to this place!!! Spending $50 here was not worth it!!”
Clint Kent M.
“The manager came in to the counter from the back door (she was asking for which girl at the register could work what days) and asked the girls working, “How do you spell haole?” Two very Caucasian people were at the register ordering and had no idea what she meant and neither girl working gave a reply. I was disgusted and would have left if my girlfriend didn’t choose to eat there and was leaving tomorrow. Very rude and unprofessional for such a highly recommended establishment.”
“We can’t really say if the food was good or not since we waited for 45 minutes and never received it. After the 45 minutes we asked for a refund and the staff was rude and not helpful so we asked to speak to the management and we can see why the staff was rude now. They tried to refuse us a refund but finally did. They were also out of anything pork at 1200 on a Saturday which was why we came in the first place.”
“Owner was pretty rude because she was busy and couldn’t see our number we ate in car because it was day after it was on diners drive ins and dives. Being in the service industry if you can’t handle the business take a break no reason to be rude to anyone let alone locals in the time since we were there already told 4 locals don’t bother even if food was ok islands to small to get attitude”
“First off, we didn’t feel the Aloha-hospitality wafting from across the counter when we walked in. Didn’t expect hugs or kisses or nothin but a simple look up with a “Hi” would’ve worked.”
“The brisket was cut all wrong – like strips of bacon and tasted like they sat under a heat lamp for a few DAYS. Yes, a few DAYS. I had to wrestle with it to get a bite. I think it even slapped me once.”
“The service was confusingly poor. It was like we were on some sort of hidden camera show and they were just pretending to be outrageously dense.”
“I have a severe allergy to gluten and cannot eat any wheat products. I asked if I could have the chicken salad wrap, just without the wrap. Just put the same amount of chicken salad on a plate and give me a fork. Simple, right? The cashier had to leave the room and consult with the kitchen to see if this would be possible. She came back and said that it WAS possible, but it would be a “side” sized portion. But I want it for lunch, so maybe you could give me the REGULAR portion? Again, she had to leave to consult with someone. She came back with another employee who claimed to have the same allergy that I have. She said she eats the chicken salad wrapped in lettuce and maybe I’d like that? Perfect, do it, that sounds great. Now they BOTH go to the kitchen to explain THAT to someone else… but apparently the cook believes it impossible. Ultimately they charged me AN EXTRA $1.50 above the price of the regular wrap to put a scoop of chicken salad ON TOP OF a lettuce leaf that was not large enough to wrap around the chicken. What the hell?”
“I am glad someone made their restaurant dream in Waimanalo, but something just isn’t right about this place, and I wont return. I want local healthy food but for some reason this place has a weird energy”
“the brisket sucked. Brisket should be trimmed and smoked, ESPECIALLY if you’re trying to make it healthier. This was boiled with fat and then sliced so my brisket pieces were mostly fat with a half centimeter of meat per slice.”
As you can see, I’m not the only one who didn’t enjoy my experience at Sweet Home Waimanalo. You can see for yourself that other people have had similar issues with this place of business just looking at the yelp reviews. Bad experiences like this are normally few and far between. I would say, of all the small business owners that I have met over the years, at least 95% are very nice and professional. Sweet Home Waimanalo’s owner and management style is not the rule, but the exception to that rule. So unfortunate.
Here are some photos from my visit to Sweet Home Waimanalo
Map to Ono Steaks and Shrimp Shack